Questions regarding the associated or underlying meaning of a word, in addition to its primary definition

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9
votes
7answers
2k views

Are there racial overtones for the term thug?

Some of us have seen the Richard Sherman pre-SuperBowl interviews where he accuses the media of racism by using the term "thug" to describe him/his actions. He suggests that it is being used to ...
2
votes
2answers
225 views

Connotation of “sanguine” vs “sanguinary”

I've recast this question after lighting upon sanguinary. sanguine: optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation: sanguinary (archaic): involving or ...
-1
votes
1answer
113 views

What are the differences between, and the connotations of, “flag”, “banner”, and “standard”?

See also: Difference between "banner" and "flag". I would like to know about standard, too. What would you say are the differences between the three words?
1
vote
2answers
128 views

The difference between “heathen” and “ungodly”

My student needed an adjective which means "irreligious" or "does not believe in God/a god." I suggested the words "heathen" and "ungodly". Would you say there's a difference between the two ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the connotations of “there” in “hello/hi there”

I'm an ESL speaker and I'm not completely familiar with the underlying meaning conveyed when adding there to a greeting such as Hello there compared to just Hello (punctuation omitted for ...
1
vote
5answers
173 views

Connotatively neutral alternatives to “ignorant”?

The word "ignorant" has a denotative meaning along the lines of "to lack knowledge" or "to not know", but its connotative meaning, by my understanding, is negative. Are there any synonyms of this ...
2
votes
3answers
208 views

Difference between “infirmary” and “sick-bay”?

What's the difference between "infirmary" and "sick-bay"? Are they completely synonymous?
2
votes
1answer
269 views

Why does the *dirty* in *dirty mind* refer to sex instead of any type of immoral thought?

Why does the dirty in dirty mind refer to sexual-related thoughts instead of any type of immoral thought (including ill will or malice against another)?
190
votes
37answers
77k views

Is there a non-sexual phrase for sleeping with someone?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
0
votes
3answers
338 views

Does “dissimulation” have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation?

I tried checking a few online dictionaries and can't get a feel for whether the word is generally used in a positive or negative sense. What is the connotation of "dissimulation"?
0
votes
3answers
352 views

How acceptable is “asinine”

The relation between asinine and ass is pretty apparent, and I know that ass isn't a very acceptable word, but is asinine? If it were used in an essay for school or during discussion would it be ...
1
vote
1answer
379 views

Does “abstruse” carry a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, does the word "abstruse" give positive or negative (or neutral) connotations? For example, "daedal" and "profound" would generally be considered a word with positive connotations, whereas ...
4
votes
1answer
253 views

“Motherland” vs. “fatherland”

What are the different connotations of motherland and fatherland? NOAD defines both as "a person's native country," though it adds "esp. when referred to in patriotic terms" for fatherland. The words, ...
2
votes
2answers
451 views

Why is “feminism” good but “racism” and other “-isms” bad? [closed]

Feminism is generally seen as a good thing. It means something or other about achieving equality of the sexes; of treating people of different sexes the same or as well as each other. Racism is ...
1
vote
4answers
497 views

Difference in usage between “Dependent” and “Reliant”

Based on the comments on a question on another SE site, I'm trying to define the difference between something being "Dependent upon something" and being "reliant upon something". The sentence in ...
0
votes
2answers
804 views

Is “interesting” a negative or positive phrase?

When someone tells you something like: It's interesting to have such a feature. It's interesting to look. Is it a negative or positive phrase? It sounds like a positive phrase but I think ...
4
votes
5answers
287 views

Whats the connotation of 'makeshift'? Is it negative, neutral, or positive like: creative?

I'm curious what the association(s) are with the word 'makeshift"
0
votes
2answers
421 views

Opportunity vs chance?

As a non-native English speaker, I wonder what the difference is between the following sentences: It's a chance to work with you. It's an opportunity to work with you. I ask this question, because ...
2
votes
1answer
380 views

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation?

Does erudite carry positive or negative or neutral connotation? I received a comment on my writing style from a mathematician a while ago Why not try for direct active voice and stop trying to ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

What's the connotation of virility?

What is the connotation of "virility"? Is virility usually used in a bad derogatory sense? Thanks. -K
3
votes
4answers
812 views

Boogie - Negative connotation?

I work in a company which has a product called "Boogie" (for reasons that the original owner knows). The product has been called that way for years in our French Canadian environment. Our few English ...
2
votes
1answer
324 views

Is an areligious person secular?

An areligious person is one who is: unconcerned with or indifferent to religious matters. A secular person is one who is: in the state of being separate from religion, or not being ...
2
votes
1answer
464 views

What is the difference between these conditionals?

It's often said that non-native speakers have a poor understanding of the English tenses. I'm not one to disagree, but on the whole I've always thought tenses weren't that hard, until I got to the ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Any difference between “Are you done?” and “Are you done yet?”

I see people in movies saying Are you done? and Are you done yet? And I wonder what that the addition of yet might mean or suggest in the second version which is absent in the first ...
-2
votes
2answers
101 views

Usage of the word “commuted”? [closed]

The word commuted has multiple meanings (the arcane one being) - reduction in a judicial sentence. Heretofore, I thought it only meant travelled (from one place to the other). I am looking for ...
0
votes
3answers
649 views

“Call it a day” — is it positive? [closed]

I'm not a native speaker. Someone told my boss about my work, 'He called it a day'. Is it a rather neutral expression about ending some day work, or does it mean 'he's lazy and didn't finish it'?
3
votes
2answers
658 views

Fox and dog terms as applied to women

My curiosity here arises from the fact that it seems bizarre that "fox" and "dog" (not terribly dissimilar creatures - see Belyaev's fox experiment) would have such opposite meanings when used in ...
7
votes
4answers
427 views

First-rate, second-rate, and third-rate

I’d like some clarification on the use of these three words. First-rate has positive connotations and its meaning is manifest, but the meanings of second-rate and third-rate are relatively muddy in ...
4
votes
2answers
94 views

“the writing is on the wall” vs. “the handwriting is on the wall”

This morning I heard on NPR someone mention that: "The handwriting is on the wall". I had a notion that it was a biblical allusion, which was confirmed by: ...
6
votes
2answers
377 views

A word for something that's done only half-consciously

In writing fiction, I find myself using the word "absentmindedly" a lot, but I don't think it's really the word I'm looking for. I'm not looking so much something done in a distracted manner, but ...
3
votes
3answers
474 views

More precise word or phrase for neutral connotation of racism

Racism in the dictionary means a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own ...
2
votes
1answer
281 views

Connotation of the word “sprezzatura ”

According to Wikipedia, sprezzatura means a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it. ...
1
vote
1answer
215 views

Is there a word for “drab” with a positive connotation?

Let's imagine that I want to say the following, replacing the word drab: This painting is beautifully drab. I'm particularly thinking of when you describe a piece of art. Usually something ...
0
votes
2answers
993 views

Is using “eager beaver” completely benign? [closed]

Person A uses the phrase "eager beaver" to mean an enthusiastic person. Person B chuckles. Basically my question boils down to who the weirdo is, so to speak: A, because "eager beaver" is outdated ...
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

Why would you want to do that? [closed]

I recently shared with several coworkers that I wanted to go to a particular class. My coworker responded to me with the following question: "Why would you want to do that?" I responded with a ...
-3
votes
1answer
747 views

“Go ahead and head on over to …”

Although I don't really have evidence for this, it seems to me that the phrase "go ahead and head on over to [...]" prevails more and more over simply "go to [...]". This phenomenon is particularly ...
0
votes
2answers
66 views

“Lucid intervals” usage?

Does "Lucid Interval" immediately bring to mind medical disorder? I would like to use it as the title for a blog and I don't want people to be put off.
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference in meaning between 'nonchalant' and 'insouciant'?

OED defines them as: nonchalant adjective (of a person or manner) feeling or appearing casually calm and relaxed; not displaying anxiety, interest, or enthusiasm insouciant adjective showing ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Word to describe a sensation of death coming over your entire body?

This is the context where I want to use the word: He closed his eyes. The living did not come to mind, neither friend, nor family—only the dance of death, plain to see. The dancing figures of ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Difference between 'Redundant' and 'Superfluous'

(I made a search for this question on this forum but surprisingly did not find related questions. Which is odd because surely this question is asked often.) First, the sentence I'm trying to use ...
8
votes
6answers
7k views

What connotation does “to fork one's repo” have?

In a recent news item, an employee was fired partly for making jokes about "big dongle" and "forking repos", which were alleged to be inappropriate sexual jokes. The employee admitted the dongle joke ...
2
votes
4answers
580 views

Can “famous last words” be used in positive way as a response in conversation?

I came across the phrase, ““famous last words.” I took it literally as the last word delivered by famous people. But Wikipedia defines““famous last words” other than this sense as: used in a ...
2
votes
2answers
291 views

“Crisis”, “drama” and similar words in the news

Today I read the economist headline: On to the next crisis. Automatic spending cuts took effect on March 1st; more drama is to come I startled at the word ‘drama’. It would be regarded as ...
49
votes
14answers
13k views

When to use “nude” and when “naked”

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
1
vote
2answers
245 views

What is the connotation or meaning of “exclusive thinking”?

How should I interpret the expression "exclusive thinking"? The expression "exclusive thinking" is one I've seen in criticism against some views or opinions that are called "exclusive thinking". Is ...
1
vote
2answers
242 views

Does the word “indefatigable” have positive or negative connotation?

Example usage: Terence, you have indefatigable enthusiasm. The effect it has on people is inspiring. In the sense of exuberance, but you feel positively about it.
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

“Take advantage” vs. “make advantage”

I'm worried that 'take advantage' could have a slightly negative connotation. Could you say "make advantage [of a situation]"?
2
votes
3answers
874 views

Has the suffix “-trix” acquired a pejorative meaning in recent years?

A couple days ago I needed the correct word for a female aviator, which I figured was aviatress. A dictionary.com search provided aviatress, aviatrice and aviatrix as acceptable choices. ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What does the expression “to add another dimension to the situation” mean?

Does the expression "to add another dimension to the situation" imply that the situation has become more complex? In Arabic we would say something like "adds another dimension to the situation that ...
13
votes
6answers
932 views

Does the word “newbie” have a negative connotation?

Imagine that I'm running a friendly and informal online business. I would like to introduce my service to the new customers by a blog post that entitles, 'Are you a newbie to XYZ.com?'. Will that ...